The Festival of Lights - Hanukkah

 Jews worldwide celebrate the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah (also known more accurately at Chanukah), annually sometime during the end of November through the end of December.  Although the date always begins at sundown on the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, it varies on western calendars each year.

 Thousands of years ago in Judea, the Syrian king, Antiochus, ordered Jews to reject their G-d, customs and traditions in favor of the Greek gods.  Fearing reprisal, many Jews obeyed, at least outwardly.  One did not--the Maccabee family.

Judah Maccabee, along with his four brothers, chose to fight the dictum.  This is only fitting since their name means “hammer.”

The family formed an army and adopted the name Maccabee.  After three long, bloody years, the Maccabees were successful in their cause and drove Antiochus and the Syrians from Israel.

After removing all the Greek symbols in the Temple of Jerusalem, on the 25th day of Kislev, the Maccabees wanted to symbolize the return of Judaism to the Temple.  They chose the eternal light, N’er Tamid, an oil lamp found in every Jewish home.  That light, once lit, is never to be extinguished.

Unfortunately, they were only able to locate a small bit of oil...only enough to keep the lamp lit for one night.  Miraculously, the lamp stayed lit for eight days.

 Today, to symbolize the defeat of the Syrians and the rededication of the Temple, Jews celebrate Hanukkah a word that means “rededication.”

 In the United States, and many other countries, Jews light a menorah and celebrate with gatherings, ethnic foods, and gifts during the Festival’s eight-day observance.

 The menorah used in this commemoration is called a hanukiyah.  There is a candle for each of the eight days, four on each side of the ninth candle, the shamash, which is used to light the others.

 The shamash gets lit first.  The candles, which are placed in the holder right to left, one each day, are lit with a special prayer, starting at the left, until on the eighth day, all the candles are aglow.


Activity for your a Hanukkah Party:

Dreidel Game


Clean a pint milk container and let dry.


Fold the top of the container down (cutting off excess) so it lays flat.


Spray paint or glue paper to cover the printing on the container.


 Punch a hole to insert a pencil, chop stick or dowel with a pointy tip through the top and bottom of the container to make a top.


 Then add the following symbols and/or words.





 How to Play:


Each participant gets a quantity (10 is good) of gelt (chocolate covered coins), pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, buttons, raisins (or whatever you want to use)  and each puts half their items into the kitty.


 Each player takes a turn.  Spin the top and if it lands on:

             Nun -- you win nothing, you lose nothing

             Gimel -- you take the whole kitty, leaving one object.  Each other player puts        another object into the kitty.

             Hay -- you win half the kitty, plus one if it's an odd number. 

             Shin -- you lose and must put one object into the kitty.


You keep playing a set number of rounds and decide who has the most or you play until everyone but the winner has nothing.

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Total Hanukkah Party Plan